‘I’m good with Luis – the club felt we had to rejuvenate’: Ronald Koeman insists he wanted Luis Suarez to STAY at Barcelona… and he told an upset Lionel Messi that his team-mate’s Atletico Madrid move wasn’t his call
- Luis Suarez left Barcelona to join Atletico Madrid in a £5.5million deal last month
- Barcelona justified the move as a means of reducing their inflated wage bill
- Nou Camp talisman Lionel Messi was upset about the decision to let him go
The 33-year-old striker was told he was no longer needed this summer after an underwhelming 2019-20 campaign and went on to join Atleti for £5m after a potential move to Juventus broke down.
Suarez had a successful six years at the Nou Camp, winning a Champions League and four LaLiga titles, and has made a bright start at his new club, netting two times already.
Ronald Koeman has said that Luis Suarez could have stayed at Barcelona to prove him wrong
Suarez joined Atletico Madrid after learning that he had become surplus to requirements
And Koeman insists Suarez could have stayed, had he wished to.
‘In the case of Suarez, it had become very difficult for him to start playing and I made that known to him. He found it difficult, but I never had any trouble with him at all,’ Koeman told NOS.
‘He trained normally, trained well. He finally made the choice to leave and I said: “If you don’t leave, for whatever reason, then you are just one of the group, then you can prove that I was wrong”. He could have stayed, yes.
‘I’m good with Luis, but the club felt that we had to rejuvenate. You can see that now in the team.
‘Ansu Fati plays, he is 17 years old. We have Pedri, 17 years old, who gets his chances. Ronald Araujo is there at the age of 21. Trincao falls in a lot and is 20 years old, and we have taken Sergino Dest, who is 19. Those are all players for the future.’
Lionel Messi was outspoken in his criticism of the club’s handling of Suarez’s departure
Lionel Messi was particularly critical of Barcelona’s handling of Suarez’s departure and Koeman revealed he has discussed the matter with him.
‘If you have someone in the locker room with whom you and your wife and children also hang out outside football, then such a reaction makes sense,’ he said.
‘I also said that to Messi: “I understand that you are disappointed and think it is a terrible shame that he is leaving, but these are choices of the club”.’